Thomas Hill

Biography

Thomas Hill (1829-1908) was an American artist of the 19th century. He produced many fine paintings of the California landscape, in particular of the Yosemite Valley, as well as the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Hill’s work was often driven by a vision resulting from his experiences with nature. For Hill, Yosemite Valley and the White Mountains of New Hampshire were his sources of inspiration to begin painting and captured his direct response to nature. Hill was loosely associated with the Hudson River School of painters. The Hudson River School celebrated nature with a sense of awe for its natural resources, which brought them a feeling of enthusiasm when thinking of the potential it held. Mainly the earlier members of the Hudson River School, around the 1850-60’s, displayed man as in unison with nature in their landscape paintings by often painting men on a very small scale compared to the vast landscape. Thomas Hill often brought this technique into his own paintings in for example in his painting, Yosemite Valley 1889. Hill’s move to California in 1861 brought him new material for his paintings. He chose monumental vistas, like Yosemite. Hill’s best works are considered to be these monumental subjects, including Great Canon of the Sierra, Yosemite, Vernal Falls and Yosemite Valley. His 1865 View of the Yosemite Valley was chosen to be the backdrop of the head table at Barack Obama’s inaugural luncheon, to commemorate Lincoln’s 1864 signing of the Yosemite Grant. A painting has been chosen for every inaugural luncheon since 1985.

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